Looming seat crisis leaves students and parents in state of grave anxiety
More boys and girls will face difficulties in finding a place at universities this year compared to previous years due to the 100% pass rate in the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent examinations, the results of which were published Saturday.
At least 130,000 students may miss out on higher education in 2021 owing to the scarcity of seats at different universities and affiliated colleges of the country.
According to the 2019 annual report of the University Grants Commission (UGC), the seat capacity for higher education, including all private and public institutions, is around 1.24 million while the total number of HSC students who passed this year is 1.37 million.
In the 2020-21 academic session, higher education institutions will feel more heat when enrolling students than in 2019, when only 73.93% of 1,336,629 examinees passed.
The looming seat crisis has left both students and parents in a state of grave anxiety.
Educationists are also puzzled by the seat equation. However, they hope that all prospective students will somehow be accommodated at higher education institutions.
A total of 161,807 students (11.83%) secured GPA 5, the maximum grade point average, this year. The figure was 47,286 (3.54%) in 2019.
In such fierce circumstances, Shushil Malaker, father of a student who passed the exams, expressed his fears about his son’s future. “I don’t know if he will even manage to get admitted into an ordinary degree course.”
National University (NU) has 872,815 seats, Bangladesh Open University 77,756 seats and other public universities, excluding Islamic Arabic University, have 47,171, according to the UGC.
Medical and dental colleges — both public and private — can take in 56,575 students, while private universities across the country can accommodate 185,157 freshmen.
Prof Dil Afroza Begum, a UGC member, said: “There will be some pressure [on higher education institutions] as many more students have passed this year compared to the last exam. But students will be chosen based on merit.”
Mim Talukder, an HSC examinee who passed this year, said she would have to get admitted to a public university within this year as some of the reputed universities did not allow candidates to sit for tests a second time.
“Moreover, my family is not affluent enough to send me to a private university,” she said.
Brac University Prof Emeritus Manzoor Ahmed feared that there would be problems while selecting students for higher education by taking students’ GPA into consideration.
He said: “The number of students who secured GPA 5 has more than tripled. The higher education institutions may struggle a little while enrolling them.”
The university authorities ought to take written exams and interviews before accepting them, he suggested.
All the students who passed this year will not opt for higher education, so the extra 130,000 who passed will not create a massive problem, Prof Manzoor Ahmed opined.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Dipu Moni, after unveiling the HSC results, said there were adequate numbers of seats to accommodate the students who have passed.
Stating that opportunities were equal for everyone as in previous years, she said: “Everyone has to sit for admission tests … Students will be admitted based on their merit.”
Besides, not everyone needed to have an honours or master’s degree, she added.
Girls outshine boys in securing GPA 5
A total of 706,885 boys and 660,492 girls had registered to sit for the 2020 HSC and equivalent exams, according to the Education Ministry.
Of the total number of students who obtained GPA 5, 78,469 were boys and 83,338 were girls.
However, boys were ahead in the Madrasah Education Board — 2,318 male and 1,730 female students secured GPA 5.
Taking into account the three groups, the nine general education boards, a total of 123,620 students from science, 19,664 from humanities and 10,330 from business studies obtained GPA 5.
As many as 57,926 students secured GPA 5 from Dhaka board, 26,568 from Rajshahi, 14,871 from Dinajpur, 12,143 from Chittagong, 12,892 from Jessore, 10,040 from Mymensingh, 9,364 from Comilla, 5,568 from Barisal and 4,242 from Sylhet.
No fewer than 4,048 and 4,145 students attained the highest grade point average from the Madrasa and Technical boards, respectively.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina officially announced the results through video conferencing at 11am from Ganabhaban on Saturday.
HSC and equivalent examinations were scheduled to take place in April 2020, but due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the public examination was initially postponed indefinitely and did not commence in the end.
The government oversaw the passage of three separate bills on January 24, namely, Intermediate and Secondary Education (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Bangladesh Vocational Education Board (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in parliament, paving the way for HSC and equivalent exam results to be published without public exams being held during the pandemic.
The results are based on assessments of the cumulative results of students’ earlier Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations.